How to Shrink Cotton Shirts in Boiling Water

Cotton is a durable fabric that is widely used for making clothes. Cotton can shrink under the right conditions, so if you have a cotton shirt that is a tad too big, you can shrink it. Although washing the shirt in hot water in the washing machine might do the trick, the hotter the water the better. The heat from boiling water constricts the fabric fibers, making the shirt smaller.

Cotton shirts shrink the most during the first wash cycle. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Step 1

Fill a large pot with water. Make sure there's enough water in the pot to completely submerge the shirts you want to shrink. Put the pot on the stove and bring the water to a boil.

Step 2

Place the cotton shirts in the water. Use long-handled tongs to carefully press the shirts into the water so they are completely submerged.

Step 3

Leave the shirts in the water to boil for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat from the stove, then carefully dump the boiling water and the shirts from the pot into a sink or tub.

Step 4

Allow the shirts to cool down completely in the sink. Remove the shirts after they're cool and wring them out gently to remove the excess water.

Step 5

Put the shirts in the dryer on high heat until they are dry. The heat from the dryer also helps shrink the shirts.

Things You'll Need

  • Large pot

  • Long-handled tongs


Use caution when dumping the boiling water and shirts from the pot. Not only will the pot be very hot, but the steam can hit your face and cause burns. Dump the water very slowly to keep the steam from your face. Wear potholders when dumping the water.

Load comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.